The Hamster Wheels of My Mind

 

Oh, the hamsters have been main lining coffee and running full tilt-a-whirl today! Seems to happen every time I want to get off the merry go round of crazy-making, something else comes a calling with a big,
RED,
shiny button
called DRAMA
and jumps up and down on it with glee.
hamster-wheel_12753_GIFSoup.com

A long time ago, I read of a Buddhist teaching using a wheel as metaphor. Now, I am not a Buddhist, but back in my spiritual Wiccan and Pagan years, I tried to glean from what I called the “Great Mysteries” and truth that I found to be timeless. It wasn’t the characters in the play, or their names I was concerned with memorizing, but what profound wisdom that could be utilized and put into practice that would help mankind out a bit, and make me a little less crazy.dharma-wheel

So, back to the wheel theory. According to my recollection and feeble understanding, the goal of the practitioner of inner calm was to stay on the Hub of the wheel. The “Hub” was the center of the Universe, or the center of one’s self in full presence. Thoughts and events and excitements and “crazy making” were on the spokes of the wheel connected to us. Some thoughts and events slid up and down the spokes like beads or rattled like playing cards stuck between them. Many could be shiny and enticing like streamers flying in the breeze, or lonesome whistles calling out.

In the end…all the “thoughts” and events and feelings even, threaten to drag us to the spokes of the wheel where we are going to go into the spin cycle with it, running with the hamsters faster and faster until we are thrown clear; exhausted and wasted. Even good things can cause us to go to the spokes and check it out, but the effect is essentially the same.

Being on the hub of the wheel allows us the unique advantage of noticing all the crazy making happening around us, but not having to be right in the spin cycle with it. This is grounding. This is being present and recognizing all the fury, or desire, or spastic excitement of a Scooby Doo Mystery, while staying in the center, and enjoying a full view of all the components.

Now, just because I KNOW this theory, does not mean I have mastered this by any stretch of the imagination. Along with Eckhart Tolle, I too have shared the uncomfortable dark moments of looking into the pit of my own mortality and wondered why I should ever continue taking that very next breath. That profound moment of realization where he proclaims “I can’t live with myself anymore” awakens the idea that “I” is different from “myself” and the first step towards identification of the ego as a separate filter amazes him. (If you don’t have a clue what I am yammering on about, please read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.)

I was as far out on the spokes as I could be, getting skid marks and road rash from the treads. It is a continual process to realize I have been burned, and to find my way back up the spokes to the hub again.

Many things can cause my hamster wheels to spin. Usually it involves people I care for and the drama that unfolds for them. I want to warn them of the impending dangers ahead. Dangers I know like the back of my hand, hard lessons that are going to hurt immensely. I know them because I have lived them. Like the Greek prophetess of danger, Cassandra cries out that something wicked this way comes. “No, I’m serious!! You in danger girl!” and for her warning of great doom and destruction, she just receives a pat on the head.

 

“Oh dear touched one. Bless your heart. I am of the Lemming Clan and I must follow my destiny over this cliff. I wish I could stay and chat with you longer, but I have a four o’clock face to face with demolition. Now, be a dear, and throw me a parade along the way, and Text me tonight, will you?”2009-05-23-Lemmings

Years I have spent cleaning up the carnage of many dear friends’ love lives and turmoil, often not being able to separate myself and my own empathy from their raw and real emotional wreckage. It has cost me dearly. I wanted to champion their causes, and charge into battle with their names emblazoned upon my breastplate, like a self-appointed Joan of Arc to avenge their heartbreak, and charge in I did! Unfortunately, there were many casualties, bent spokes, cracked wheels, streamers gumming up the gears, and smell of burning rubber and hamster hair. No one likes to talk about that.

The fact I have to realize is: these aren’t MY issues. They are people who I care about very deeply, who are at odds with their own reality. Whether it’s a love relationship gone awry, an injustice locally, or even global injustice; I have to stay grounded in the middle so that the help I do offer is actually helpful. Running around playing pit crew to “fix” everyone else’s flat tire is only a patch job at best, and might make it worse. If I can encourage and empower others to find their own answers and to solve their own problems, they will feel the victor, which is a far cry more empowering than being “Saved”.

And while we are busy spinning our wheels, here is the second epiphany come full circle: My Circle of Concern as a Reactionary person vs. a Proactive Person. Here lies the Great Leap!

circle-concern-control

Learning the difference between what I’m going to focus time and energy and hamster power needs to be worth it. (Even with the extra perks and coffee breaks)

Do I want to spend all my time and energy in an argument on Facebook over a political punditry meme (which I have probably wasted months of my life on already) or to write that novel I keep talking about? Would I rather worry about issues I can’t control, natural disasters I can’t predict, and possible outcomes of relationships outside of my own, or work on my own life, happiness, and family’s well being? And here I am finally on the Hub of the wheel. This moment, the hamster stops, picks up her ears in an “ah ha!” moment and pauses to gnaw on a nub of carrot, she had stuffed in her cheeks. This NOW has meaning. This is all I really have control of.

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